Friday, February 6, 2015

What is the most shock absorbing material for a house

Here's another person concerned about their house. I think 
it's a GREAT idea for people to think like this, as so much 
of our family resources are locked up in where and how we 
live. The geology under our feet really DOES affect the 
quality of our lives - often in ways we may not even realize 

Q: What is the most shock absorbing material for a house 
to withstand a Category 3-4 Earthquake? Also, if you had 
to make a model of a house with no connecting edges, what 
 types of modifications would you suggest that would with-
stand that  earthquake? Thank you and have a great day!
- Betsy D
A: Most people would prefer to live in a house that did not let wind, rain, mice, and insects in, so I assume most people live in houses "with connecting edges."

THAT said, if your house is made of reinforced concrete, it will likely survive a M=3-4 shock, but there would be cracks everywhere. Larger events than M=3-4 have in the past led to "pancaking" - whole floors collapsed onto floors below them, with the terrible consequences you can imagine. If a house is constructed of cinder blocks or brick, it is common for facades - whole walls - to collapse. A wood-framed house, however, will flex to a certain degree. Cracks in drywall can easily be taped and sealed and painted over. 

My house is wood-framed, and the foundations are interconnected reinforced concrete, excavated down into bedrock. Before I bought the house, I checked the surrounding greenway for any evidence of landslides (trees bent near the base, etc.) and found none. Perhaps my education may then prove to be useful here... eventually. However, in the event of a M = 8+ subduction earthquake, all bets are off. Destruction will be widespread, not only in the houses we live in, but in the infrastructure that provides us with food, water, heat, and electricity. 

Perhaps, then, a limited lifetime may also prove useful - I hope not to be around to see this. 

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